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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. Cost of Immigration Violations Continue to Rise

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

    Effective January 20, 2018, the civil penalties for a variety of immigration-related violations increased dues to an adjustment for inflation. Below is a chart setting forth the old and new amounts:

    Type of Violation Old Amounts New Amounts
    I-9 substantive violation $220 - $2191 $224 - $2236
    Knowingly employing undocumented worker $548 - $4384 $559 - $4473
    Unfair Documentary Practice $181 - $1811 $185 - $1848
    Immigration-Related Discrimination $452 - $3621 $461 - $3695

    These increases are another reason to conduct an internal audit of your I-9 forms. Through such, an employer can remedy or mitigate many violations before Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the Immigrations and Employees Rights Section (IER) discovers them. To learn more about employer immigration compliance and steps you can take to prevent I-9 violations and hiring undocumented workers, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  2. Restaurant Manager Receives Prison Time for Harboring Illegal Workers

    By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    The manager of a Mexican restaurant in Ottawa, Kansas, Alex Sanchez, Jr., was sentenced to six months in federal prison for harboring undocumented workers. This sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations. Sanchez’s prison sentence will be followed by six months home confinement and supervised release for three years. Additionally, Sanchez must pay a $4,000 fine.

    In the plea agreement, Sanchez admitted that in 2011 he paid a fine of $22,589 fine for I-9 form violations. Despite having to pay this fine, he continued to employ workers in 2012 who he knew were not legally in the United States. Additionally, he provided housing for his undocumented workers and paid them in cash.
  3. OCAHO Reduces Company’s Penalty by 60 Percent; by Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

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    OCAHO is on a roll this year as it issued its third decision in just the first six weeks of 2014. This time, it reduced a home healthcare company's penalty by about 60%.

    I-9 Form Violations

    In U.S. v. New Outlook Homecare, LLC, 10 OCAHO no. 1210 (2013), ICE sought a penalty of over $21,500 for substantive violations – failing to ensure completion of Section 1 and failing to property complete Section 2 or 3 of the I-9 forms. The company asserted the errors were “minor clerical errors”; however, OCAHO disagreed and found substantive violations.

    Calculation of Penalties and Company’s Arguments

    ICE calculated the penalties with a baseline penalty of $935 per violation because over 50% of the I-9 forms had substantive errors. ICE mitigated the penalty by 5% due to the small size of the business but enhanced the penalty by 5% based on the seriousness of the violations.

    The company argued the penalty was “unreasonable and excessive.” It argued for a penalty of $150 per violation because ICE did not give the company sufficient credit for following the law and not hiring unauthorized workers. Furthermore it asserted it possessed good faith.

    OCAHO Decision

    Although OCAHO found the violations to be serious, it determined the penalty was near the maximum allowed of $1100 per violation and that level of penalty should be reserved for “more egregious violations.” OCAHO did not find the violations to be egregious in this case. Finally, it noted that small companies should be given leniency under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. Thus, OCAHO reduced the company’s penalty to $9450.

    The reduction in the penalty of about 60% is greater than OCAHO’s average reduction of 46.5% and 45% in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
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